Real Life

Driver s licence restrictions and conditions

If you take your test in an automatic, does this mean you are restricted?
Driver's licence restrictions and conditions

I am 16 and going for my driver’s licence. Our family car has automatic transmission and my mother thinks that if I pass the practical in an automatic, I will never be allowed to drive a manual vehicle. I don’t think she is right, but we can’t find anything about it on any official website. Can you help?

Both you and your mother are correct – though you are more right than Mum! If you pass your restricted licence using an automatic transmission vehicle, your restricted licence will have an “automatic vehicles only” condition on it. This means you will only be allowed to drive automatic vehicles, unless accompanied by a supervisor. But this rule only applies while you are driving on a restricted licence. If you pass your full licence in an automatic transmission vehicle, you will be allowed to drive, from that point on, both automatic and manual gear-change vehicles.

Tell your mother not to worry as there are no long-term disadvantages to getting your licence in an automatic. There is still much confusion over this issue because it doesn’t seem logical, but I guess safety authorities now consider it best for you to pass your practical test without having to be sidetracked by manual gear-change issues. The time to learn to use a manual is after you’ve become confident on the road using an automatic. Also, in the modern world, fewer and fewer drivers will ever need or want to drive a manual, so there seems little point in having to learn to do so.

Do you have a consumer question for Kevin? Email [[email protected]](mailto: [email protected]), or post to Weekly Consumer, PO Box 90119, Victoria St West, Auckland 1142.

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